From the editor
Sometime in the spring of 2017, I sat with my friend Zack at his dining room table and waited as he finished a response paper for our ecopoetics class. It is important to begin here, with this memory, because in the moment it seemed insignificant. It was a normal, cloudy day in Buffalo, NY. We were headed to a poetry reading. I was at his apartment for less than fifteen minutes. But as I waited, I looked over to the end of the table, at a poetry book—the only other object in proximity, asides from his laptop. I admired the cover, opened to a page in the middle, and read the first line: “if you are a snail, i know how to find you.” I read Eric Sneathen’s Snail Poems that night, in its entirety, and the next day I thanked Zack for letting me borrow it. For leaving the book out on the table so that I could encounter it, then hold it, then share it.
When I proposed an ecopoetics journal to Amy and Aya earlier this year, it was impossible to tell what it might look like. As a group, we were interested in ecopoetics because it questions our human impact / interference / existence / exploitation / gratitude / care to other humans and more-than-human entities. And in response, their generosity / forgiveness / revenge / resilience / grief. Ecopoetics, in its many definitions, can humble, can call attention to both the violence and potentials that surround us and demand action. How do we (re-)imagine beyond what we currently have, or grieve an environment and its inhabitants while actively reshaping and healing in creative ways? How, still, do we enact violence, perhaps even without our knowing? Many journals before us, and the artists behind them, have initiated these conversations, challenged what we think we know (and continue to do so), and for them, I am grateful. And so, in deciding where to take this journal, perhaps what I want most for it is simply to sit alongside others, to be small and near, and in relation. A book at the end of a table, a snail we might miss. In a world that prioritizes the new, the gut-wrenching, the spectacle, or art that pulls apart the body and destroys, what seemingly invisible things or possibilities can we find when we look closer? How can the smallness suture?
With Snail Trail, I am interested in our willingness to lie low on the ground, among the dirt and shells, among all the remains of lives past and their ghosts that nourish future beings. The works in this first issue encourage other possible ways of approaching the world—more tenderly and closely, unexpected and with a little more mess. Our contributors invite us into fragile insides and strange juxtapositions, exploring the quiet resilience despite continued loss, the unassuming encounters that shape us, or the organisms that lurk in places unseen and all the ways they heal and harm.
It would be a stretch to say that this journal was born in that brief moment in 2017, sitting at my friend’s dining room table, late to a reading on the other side of town. But it did lead us to here. And in the moments since, in the slow build to now, grateful to be constantly moved by small gestures, and all these efforts we make, collectively, to stitch together, to contain, to leak and spill and create gaps. This hope we have in finding fellow snails.